One of the things that we admire about the Father of our country is that he was said to be a man of utmost honesty. We know that likely the story has been embellished, but supposedly when confronted as a boy about cutting down a cherry tree he replied, “I cannot tell a lie”.
Oops. He told one.
We all can tell lies. But what concerns me is when professing believers in Jesus (and I use the word “professing” not to cast doubt on their faith, but rather on the fact that they openly admit to being Christ followers) are less than honest. I’m concerned because lately I’ve been around Christians who were, shall I say, less than honest.
What do we hope to gain by failing to tell the truth? Sometimes it’s to cover up our failures. We know we’ve done something that we’re ashamed of but can’t come clean with it. So we fabricate or make up an excuse. Shame on us. We know it’s wrong yet we still “stretch” the truth or tell a “half-truth”.
The Bible is pretty straightforward about it. It says, “So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body.” (Ephesians 4:25) What about that isn’t clear?
But it’s not that we don’t get it. It’s that we all struggle with that old nature that just refuses to die even though it’s been put to death and conquered by the new life freely given to us by Christ.
Instead of lying, let’s “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to one another because we do all belong to each other. When one brother or sister deceives or distorts the truth, even twists it a bit to save face, that person has lied to himself because we belong to each other. We’re a body. It’s like slapping yourself in the face. It’s stupid. And it’s wrong.
The world needs us to be at our Christ-following best. And that means being honest. It means saying words that edify not tear down. They need that from us because it is from our lips that the ultimate truth must be told – the Gospel truth – if they have any hope of eternal life. And if we can’t tell the truth to each other, why would they trust us to tell them the truth?
Quit the covering up and instead “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 NLT) That implies there must also be ready forgiveness. Let’s come clean. Then we can truly begin to reach the world with the truth.